The Hillsboro City Schools Tomahawk food truck is pictured near the district's central office on West Main Street in Hillsboro. The truck is still serving meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
The Hillsboro City Schools Tomahawk food truck is pictured near the district's central office on West Main Street in Hillsboro. The truck is still serving meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
The Hillsboro City Schools' Tomahawk food truck has been providing free meals to local students who have had to leave their daily academic routine due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. According to the district, the food truck will continue to serve area children through the state’s latest school closure extension.

As announced by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office Monday, March 30, the Ohio Department of Health will extend its order to keep schools closed through the end of April.



Ohio's previous order was set to expire April 3. The new order will extend the closure through May 1.

Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis discussed the schedule for the HCS Tomahawk food truck, at that time set through April 3, during the Hillsboro school board’s March 16 meeting. Davis told The Highland County Press Monday afternoon that with the state’s latest order, the district plans to continue running the food truck through May 1.

Director Jessica Walker said they do not anticipate any changes to the schedule. Stops include the HCS Central Office on West Main Street by the Scott House, 10:45 a.m.; Hi-Land Terrace, 11:15 a.m.; Highland Heights, 11:30 a.m.; Cedarwoods, noon; Liberty Park shelter, 12:30 p.m.; the Paint Creek fire station on East Street, 1:15 p.m.; Rocky Fork North Beach, 2 p.m.; and the Highland County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 2 p.m.

Walker said that the food truck is “drive-thru style” and says children are asked to watch for directions from staff. “Please be kind and be patient,” she said. “We will make sure all children receive a meal.”

According to Walker, the daily free meals include breakfast, and a hot lunch is offered (along with options for a peanut butter and jelly meal or a yogurt meal). The free meals are available to all children 18 and under, and menus are updated daily at the Tomahawk’s Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/hcstomahawk.

Walker told The Highland County Press that the district is serving an average of 426 children a day, for a total of 852 meals a day on average, counting both breakfast and lunch.

“The week of March 23-27, we served 4,242 meals,” she said. “This Monday, March 30, we increased students attending by 121 (242 meals). I would expect as the school closure is extended, we could easily see 1,200 meals a day being served.”

During the March 16 Hillsboro school board meeting, a list of teachers and staff members were approved as volunteers to work for the HCS Tomahawk food truck. Walker spoke about the district staff’s dedication to provide thousands of meals already to area children.

“At this time, we have around 35 staff/volunteers scheduled to work shifts, having between five and six staff per day,” she said. “I am very fortunate that I have such an amazing lunch crew that truly cares about their students and families. That lunch crew does not just consist of lunch ladies and lunch dudes (though they are the best!). We are teachers and teacher aides! We are bus drivers and maintenance personnel! We are nurses and custodians! We are administrators and board members!

“We all know there is a need in our community that needs to be met, and they are literally blowing up my email and Facebook asking what they can do to do their part helping ease our students’ food insecurities during this unprecedented time. I call us all the #hairnetwarriors. I would like to thank them all. Without them, we could not do what we do.”

Walker also thanked the community for their support. For those interested in assisting the district, she said that the Hillsboro Church of Christ is helping to gather food donations, with collection bins for food located behind the church. Donations can also be made payable to HCS Tomahawk and mailed to the Hillsboro City Schools Central Office, 39 Willettsville Pike, Hillsboro 45133.

Another way to help, Walker said, is by promoting the food truck and its services.

“I have had numerous calls from the community asking ‘What can we do? How can I help?’” she said. “Talk about the Tomahawk and pass it on to your friends and family. Follow us on Facebook and share our Facebook page.

“We are very fortunate here in Hillsboro, Ohio that we have such a caring and helping community.”

The HCS Tomahawk is in its fourth year of service to the Hillsboro community. Originally founded as a free summer meal program, the Tomahawk debuted in the summer of 2017, offering free lunches to children ages 18 and under for 42 days. As previously reported by The Highland County Press, after its first two summers, the HCS Tomahawk program received statewide recognition, earning an award from the Children’s Hunger Alliance for providing over 38,000 free meals to local children.

For further updates on the Tomahawk, follow the truck on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hcstomahawk and visit the Hillsboro City Schools website at hillsboro.k12.oh.us.